Office of the Governor Rick Perry

University of Texas and Aga Khan University Memorandum of Understanding

*Note - Gov. Perry frequently departs from prepared remarks.
Saturday, April 12, 2008  •  Austin, Texas  •  Speech

Thank you and good morning. I am delighted to be joined today by the spiritual leader of 16 million Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, His Highness, the Aga Khan, the 49th hereditary Imam and direct descendent of the Prophet Muhammad. And also by the president of the University of Texas, Bill Powers, and the president of the Aga Khan University, President Firoz Rasul. It is a special honor to welcome His Highness back to Texas, six years since His Highness' last visit, and this time in the year of His Highness' Golden Jubilee celebration, marking 50 years as the Imam of Ismaili Muslims worldwide.

Texas has a vibrant Ismaili Muslim community that contributes greatly to the social, economic and cultural fabric of this state. Their acts of charity and good citizenship are a real tribute to His Highness' progressive vision for the world. Today we stand in the presence of a world-renowned advocate for aid and investment in the underdeveloped world, a visionary leader whose recognition of education's importance has led to several campuses affiliated with the Aga Khan University and a global humanitarian leader who works tirelessly to marshal the resources and charity of men and women of faith to solve the challenges of hunger, hopelessness, ignorance and violence.

His Highness is also a vocal advocate for building enduring democratic institutions, and pursuing free and open pluralistic societies that respect all religious views and give people from every walk of life a voice in shaping their societies. His Highness has also invested resources in helping Third World countries prepare for natural disasters and respond to them with swift, overwhelming compassion. I saw first-hand His Highness' relief workers helping earthquake victims when I visited Pakistan in January of 2006.

Texans share His Highness' vision for pluralism, lifting people out of abject poverty, encouraging cultural renewal, and building a strong educational foundation for future generations. In fact, for a number of years the University of Texas has taken a leading role in educating young, Western minds about the historical and cultural roots of Muslim Societies through the Muslim Histories and Cultures Project. This important program trains secondary school teachers in offering a curriculum on Muslim civilizations. I have supported this program from the very beginning, because we must bridge the gap of understanding between East and West if we ever hope to experience a future of peace and prosperity.

In a few minutes, President Powers and President Rasul will sign a Memorandum of Understanding that establishes a partnership between their respective universities. Together, they will seek solutions to common challenges and achieve common goals. This MOU not only signals our collective commitment to expanding educational horizons for our students, it will also direct these institutions' combined expertise at many challenges including disease, poverty and pollution. We can achieve so much more when we work together, focusing on the common values that unite us instead of the differences that make us unique.

His Highness, the Aga Khan, is a leader who bridges the gap between East and West, a visionary who offers a roadmap for peace, prosperity and stability in uncertain times. We would be wise to follow His example. To share his thoughts with us on this special day, I would like to introduce this unique international leader, His Highness the Aga Khan. Thank you Your Highness. I want to introduce at this time an extraordinary academic leader that we are very fortunate to have in our own backyard, the president of the University of Texas, Dr. Bill Powers.

We are honored to have with us today, by way of Pakistan, the president of the Aga Khan University, Dr. Firoz Rasul. Dr. Rasul, please share your comments.

At this time, I would like to invite our two university presidents to sign this historic Memorandum of Understanding. Thank you.

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